Tourism Minister K Lakshminarayanan called on French Ambassador Thierry Mathou during the latter’s recent visit to the city. 

Tourism Minister K Lakshminarayanan called on French Ambassador Thierry Mathou during the latter’s recent visit to the city. 
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Tourism Department has mooted undertaking conducted curated tour packages from Puducherry to France during a recent meeting with the visiting French Ambassador, Thierry Mathou, said K. Lakshminarayanan, Minister for Tourism.

The Minister, who made a courtesy call on Mr. Mathou during his two-day visit to the city, said it was suggested that the Puducherry Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) could organise short-duration packages for domestic tourists from the region at concessional rates that are much lower than those charged by private tour operators.

“We are experiencing a palpable demand for tourist visas to visit France. This potential can be tapped if a facilitative arrangement is put in place by French tourism agencies”, Mr. Lakshminarayanan said.

“We can also look at establishing a reciprocal mechanism to attract French tourists to the city”, he added.

The Ambassador, who has also evinced keen interest in strengthening bilateral people-to-people ties, has agreed to look into the idea, the Minister said.

A collaboration with the Louvre Museum for sharing original or recreated artefactual resources pertaining to 300 years of trade ties, including over 180 years of French governance, of erstwhile Pondicherry and its three exclaves in Karaikal, Mahe, and Yanam was also mooted during the interaction, Mr. Lakshminarayanan said. These could add significant value to the Digital Museum set up at the Art and Craft Village in Murungapakkam.

While recording his appreciation to the French diplomat for the substantial financial and technical aid from the French agency Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) for an urban drinking water supply augmentation project and other civic projects under the Smart City mission, the Minister also sought technical support for strengthening storm-water drainage and sewerage networks in the city.

Pointing to the presence of 29 Tamil-origin counsellors from Puducherry, who have been actively serving in French municipal bodies, Mr. Lakshminarayanan suggested they be brought into a forum that would also comprise representatives of the public in Puducherry, something in the nature of a joint parliamentary forum, to take up issues of common interest and areas of collaboration.

“These could be made a part of the people-to-people exchange to nurture the historic relationship between France and Puducherry,” the Minister said. In fact, such an association could also rope in public representatives of other French archipelagos, such as Reunion Island, he added.

On these lines, the celebration of Liberation Day of Puducherry in France by involving the 30,000 odd Franco-Tamil community as part of the annual Francophone festival events was also suggested.

The Ambassador was open to exploring some of the ideas discussed during the interaction, Mr. Lakshminarayanan said.

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